Foster Farms has launched the sixth year of its Food 4 Thought campaign, which provides groceries twice a month to students in after-school programs.
Seven elementary campuses in Stanislaus County are taking part in the school year that started in August. Yet-to-be-named schools in Merced County, where the poultry company is based, are expected to join them in early 2015.
Two Fridays a month, students get 15 to 18 pounds of food to take home to their families, if they complete eight hours per week of academics and other activities. The kids help fill the grocery bags with items provided through the Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca.
The company held a kickoff event Friday at Chrysler School in Modesto. Also taking part are Agnes Baptist, Eisenhut, Empire, Orville Wright, Franklin and Capistrano. The schools were chosen because of their high numbers of low-income students.
About 750 children in Stanislaus County are taking part this year, with support from Wells Fargo and other donors besides Foster Farms. A total of about 3,750 students in both counties have received food over the first five years – some 1.1 million pounds of produce, canned goods and other items.
Second Harvest started the Food 4 Thought program in San Joaquin County in 1996 and expanded it to Stanislaus with the help of Foster Farms in 2009. The Merced County Food Bank helps with the effort in that county.
Foster Farms has a chicken-processing plant in Livingston and a pair of turkey plants in Turlock, part of a 12,000-employee operation in seven states. As part of its 75th anniversary celebration this summer, it provided weekly meals through several food banks on the West Coast.